I overheard him and his practices

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Having nothing else planned for the Bank Holiday weekend, I headed off to the Globe (well, I was really on a trip to Konditor and Cook for Curly Wurly cake, but it’s on the way and feels far more virtuous). There’ll doubtless be more to follow – particularly on the costumes – today I want to talk about rehearsals.

The entrance fee to the Globe exhibition includes a tour around the theatre itself, subject to the exigencies of the performance schedule. I managed to time my visit perfectly for a (silent) tour while the cast were doing the Tech Rehearsal for The Oresteia, which opened on Saturday night.

I must admit to a fascination with the rehearsal stage of plays – as well as the frustrated actor I am sure there lurks in all of us, I did the traditional student theatrical experimentation with being a costume designer – so it was really interesting to just sit on the seats and watch them getting the timing right for a choral entrance – oh, and put on and take off some purple robes about a million times.

It was also a salutary reminder that even seemingly simple productions like the Globe’s require a hell of a lot of work – actors, props, singers and musicians. And set design (they had boarded over the beautiful painted wood in favour of bare timber and some Greek graffiti). It was strange and wonderful to find such eerie music coming from a french horn and oboe who seemed to be on a rehearsal schedule only tangentially joined to the actors on the stage.

Strangest and most fascinating of all was that the cast overlapped considerably with that of Measure for Measure which I saw earlier in the summer. Some of them (*cough* Petra Massey *cough*) were instantly recognisable out of costume, others took a while to slot into place (Dominic Rowan looks better in a gold suit than in a stripey T-shirt, that’s all I’m saying…). We didn’t get to see enough for me to work out who they were playing (my knowledge of Greek tragedies is not word-perfect. And I think they were doing Chorus bits anyway) but it was clear, in the tech that they were mostly not in character unless this was a very unusual production indeed!

Eventually we were ushered out for the rest of the tour. Never mind staying for the performance – I could have watched them putting on those purple robes all afternoon.

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4 thoughts on “I overheard him and his practices

  1. Ah, I so want to do a Globe tour. There’s something fascinating about scurrying behind the scenes anywhere, but a theatre is particularly interesting. I was in youth theatre briefly and found offstage really atmospheric – all of that stumbing around in semi darkness, the mechanics of pretence. Great stuff. I will go one day!

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